I am looking for a new congregation to work with. In the process, I am almost always given a list of questions asking for my understanding of different issues. I know this is important for the sake of unity, and I don’t mind sharing my interpretations of the Scriptures. Still, some of the questions focus on matters that should be matters of opinion rather than doctrine. For example, one committee asked me, “What is your view on eating in the building?” I started to give them a smart Alec answer about how much I enjoy eating with anyone anywhere, but they were serious. They took two verses from 1 Corinthians 11: “Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?” (v. 22), and “If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together, it may not result in judgment” (v. 34). From that, they created the Anti-kitchen doctrine. (If it was just an opinion, then you have a choice: to eat or not to eat. However, if this is a doctrine, then it becomes a matter of salvation: if you eat, you are disobeying the Lord!)
In context (and remember, “a text out of context is a pretext”), the apostle is talking about abuses of the Lord’s Supper. One of the Restoration Movement principles is to try and do “Bible things in Bible ways.” Thus, we use unleavened bread in the communion because we want to model our celebration on the original celebration. Likewise, the first Christians knew the first Lord’s Supper occurred during a meal, so they had communion following a meal they called the Agape or a “Love feast” (Jude 12). But in Corinth, the Love Feast was so badly abused (read chapter 11) that Paul told them to abandon the meal altogether. Does this mean potlucks are sinful? They can be.
One church I worked with had a terrible problem. One family had so many children that they couldn’t supervise them all properly as they went through the lunch line. The kids piled their plates high with all the fried chicken and deviled eggs. Then they would take two bites and throw the rest of the food into the trash before running outside to play. The other children began following their bad example. Those of us in the back of the line had to settle on a lunch of a few pretzels and celery stalks! I know it sounds silly. It wouldn’t have been an issue if the children were hungry, but they were rude and wasteful. Members began to grumble and resent the presence of the children. It became a problem. Then one wise old elder announced, “every child must go through the line with an adult.” Peace was restored, and everyone was happy. (The fried chicken was still gone by the time I went through the line, but at least it wasn’t in the trash.)
We’ll continue thinking about these things tomorrow. Please share your opinions with me, and if you are not going to stay for the potluck, can I have your deviled eggs?